Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Please read the full article on This Girl Travels!

OK, so maybe it wasn’t the President’s birthday- but it was my son’s.  When I asked him what he wanted to do to celebrate, he told me he wanted to “finally” see Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson (third president of the USA and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence). “Finally” is a relative term- he was turning 7.   So, off to Charlottesville, Virginia we went.

20140729_094659Charlottesville was the perfect place for this trip, because it has so much to offer in terms of Presidential history (and homes).  In and around Charlottesville, you can see the homes of four of the most influential presidents in American history- along with Thomas Jefferson, you can visit the homes of James Madison, George Washington, and James Monroe. That is a lot of history for a little area.  You can visit all the homes with a special pass should you so choose. The “President’s Passport” is one ticket that gives you access to all the homes of the four presidents. (Other added bonuses include free admission to 9 museums and historic sites in Alexandria if you show your paid ticket at the door, free wine tastings along the Monticello wine trail, savings at shopping areas, hotels, restaurants, and more. This is a good pass to get if you plan on spending a few days in the area.)

WP_20140729_10_24_02_ProOur first stop, of course, was Monticello.  I was impressed to see that they offered “family” tours with a guide who made the time spent even in “no touching” areas fun for the kids.  She had a small bag packed with visual guides, books, photos, and toys that the children could see, touch, and play with to help them get a better idea of what she was explaining and the times that Jefferson lived in.  She also aimed the tour at them, using language they could understand without “dumbing down” the tour whatsoever- she used appropriate language and explanations, scaled to ability and age- but never assumed the children were unable to understand or grasp the knowledge.  This was something that the parents appreciated and the children thrived on- they all enjoyed the tour and remembered what they learned. (My son, of course, had to buy a stuffed Thomas Jefferson from the gift shop, just like the guide had.  It was his birthday, after all.)  There were also hands on activities to try one’s hand at when the tour was finished, such as using a quill pen and ink or playing with “old time” toys and games.
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WIN! Back To School With Alex Toys and Crafts

With back to school upon us, we want our kids to be as ready as they can be.  We also want them to have as much fun as they can both in and out of school.  Learning can be fun, and is easily incorporated into play.  Having mom and dad around to share learning time and help and encourage children grow will let your children thrive and feel confidant as they had back to school this year.

ALEX toys, favorites of ours, make going back to school fun and easy.  Check out some of the awesome items they have for your little ones!

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ALEX TOYS Ready, Set, Write by ALEX BRANDS

We love this!  We took it with us on a recent road trip to Maine and Canada, and my son used it in the car and in restaurants.  “Learn to write A,B,C’s and numbers with ease! This spiral-bound pad contains 19 pages of numbers and letters that wipe away for lots of practicing.”  It is perfect for practicing your letters and getting to know them, or for older children like my son, getting better with handwriting (which, like his mother, is usually a mess).

Ready, Set, Write costs $13.95 on the ALEX site, and is well worth it.  It can be used over and over again, as well as passed on to younger siblings. It is aimed at kids aged 3 and up, but can be used by younger if they can grip the pen.  The one thing I would watch for is that the pen does stain both hands and clothing if you are not careful.

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ALEX TOYS Ready, Set, Tell Time by ALEX BRANDS

My son is not the best at telling time on any sort of clock or watch- it is a skill we are working on.  This kit is aimed at children 4 and up, but again can be used with younger children as well as older. I would have for sure used it for circle time when I was teaching Pre-K, and my son is getting use out of it as well.  It sells for $18.95 on the ALEX website, and comes with more then just a clock face.
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R&R Games Twitter Party 3/12

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Got the winter blahs?  Looking for something fun to do with the kids, the family, or in your homeschooling group?  Stop by the R&R Games Twitter Party at 9 pm EST on March 12, 2014 to win games and prizes.
R&R Games is a great company that makes all sorts of games- from classic style board games to stuffed animal games (a new one for me!) they really have something for everyone and every age group.  The mission statement of R&R is to “produce high quality family board games so that we can play around all the time. Fun games. Challenging games. Big games, little games, games that climb on rocks… (Oh wait, that’s something else…) Anyway, that’s our mission.”
They have a wide variety of educational games that would be great for the classroom or homeschooling, and have won more then 30 awards (including the MENSA Select Honor) so you know they have a proven track record.  But more important?  These games are just plain fun!

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5 Ways to Motivate Children to Do Better in School

As a concerned and caring parent, you obviously want your children to do well in school. The progress they achieve in their academic studies now could determine how they fare for the rest of their lives, including the colleges they’re able to attend and the types of jobs they’ll ultimately hold. Of course, most kids are not that forward-thinking. They’d rather play with their friends, play video games, and goof off than do homework or study for tests. So there will be times when you have to make them buckle down and do their work. But really, wouldn’t you rather motivate them so that they take an interest in the prospect of their own future? The answer, of course, is yes, but actually motivating your children is not quite so simple. So here are just a few ways that you might instill in them a desire to do better in school.

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1   Help them with studies. Often, kids can get frustrated, bored, and discouraged when left to manage a mountain of homework on their own. But when you take the time to participate in the process, you not only have the ability to monitor their academic progress, but also to assist them with any problems they may be having and build confidence in their abilities through encouragement and praise. When kids associate academics with positive feelings, they’re going to be a lot more motivated to try hard and succeed in school.
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Top 5 Tips for Raising Money-Smart Kids

Our economy is in rough shape; no one can dispute that fact. Inflation is affecting our budgets, prices are rising across the board, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to find high paying jobs. You want your kids to be prepared for this world, so start teaching them to be smart with money. Educate your kids using these 5 tips for a thrifty education.

  1. Lead by Example
    The most important thing you can do to teach your kids how to be smart savers and thrifty spenders is to be a good role model. Show your kids how to be financially responsible by setting good examples for them. Be smart with your own money and your kids will pick up on these habits. You are your kids’ first and most important teacher, and the lessons they learn from you will last many years. Kids are very impressionable, so take this time to make a [Read more…]

Watch It – Teaching Kids to Tell Time (and count money)

Time is a difficult concept to wrap your mind around. You can measure it but not with a ruler, you can lose it but will never find it. Oh, and it makes your hair grey 😛

When you are having fun it flies, but when you are not it drags on by- and of course it will continue on until…. well…. the end of time. Let’s get all the little guys and gals involved in all the ticking fun with Watch It! The elapsed time clock. This clock will help kids thinking hours and minutes instead of 5 minutes, 5 minutes. The clock itself is big and tough for little kids to play with. It is also well built and easy to use. The stopwatch in the middle tells the difference between the two clock on either side of the apparatus. Both clocks display the clock on both their faces and the numerical display below. This [Read more…]

Little Pim – Language Fun For Kids

With school starting up, parents and kids everywhere are looking for that slight edge to bring their kids from middle of the class to top of the class. It is a fact that children who learn foreign languages early in life have a much easier time learning new languages later on in life. With this in mind, we have Little Pim. This cute little panda helps kids learn languages like Chinese, Spanish, Italian, German, English, French, Japanese, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew, and Portuguese. Little Pim teaches children not by associated words with translations or drills, but with actions and sounds, so kids don’t have to translate to learn- they just learn.

This way, instead of memorizing one word, they memorize strings of actions, where the words are simply the building blocks to the underlying concepts. Pim is a blast for kids, it is so much fun Little Man actually asks to watch on a regular basis. If it is good enough to be requested instead of assigned, that is pretty good in our house, especially for something educational.

Little Pim is also the winner of 10 top consumer awards for his educational DVDs. Pimis now available as a digital download as well. So now Pim can be everywhere you are! Pim is even available as an app on the iPad and is the winner of the 2012 National Parenting Center Seal of Approval.

About Little Pim:

Little Pim is an award-winning foreign language learning program for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Between birth and the age of six, the human brain is hard-wired for language learning, and Little Pim helps families take advantage of this brief window, by making language learning easy, fun [Read more…]

Tick-Tock’s Toy Clock- Learning To Tell Time

Telling time with an analog clock can be one of the more difficult activities your child could learn this year in school. Not only is this difficult for kids, but as kids become adults, they can still have a hard time with this. This is only second to splitting the bill after dinner in difficulty for adults. 😛

Whats a good way to get your children interested in keeping time? A cute play clock of course, lol. Take a look at Tick-Tock ‘s Talking Toy Clock. It is a bright, colorful clock adorned with the blue penguin. With Tick-Tock ‘s help, your child will be able to tell time before you know it. This is perfect for those kids who are always asking when to do something or what time it is or how long will this take. (So….all of them.) Within a few play/learning sessions with Tick-Tock, time will be a breeze with your little ones. Just be careful when you say, “give me five minutes”, because they will return in five minutes- unless it is five minutes until bed.

The clock itself works in a very simple manner. You can move the hands of the [Read more…]